How To Achieve The Layered Lighting Look?

Whether you’re illuminating your business or your home, taking a little time to consider how your choice of lighting can make a substantial difference to the ambience and the overall aesthetic of your space. And no matter what type of interior architecture you have, few design principles can have as dramatic an effect as layered lighting. So what is it, and how can you achieve it?

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If you go into any high-class restaurant or boutique hotel lobby, you’ll undoubtedly notice that the light does not fall uniformly across the space – certain features and areas are lit more brightly than others. This is no accident and is a perfect example of the layered lighting effect in action. One of the main benefits of using it is simply that it can create a softer, almost romantic atmosphere in a room, and is far more intriguing than a single layer of yellow light. But it can also help avoid eye strain, and even save on energy bills in the long run.

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Whether you’re lighting a hotel lobby or your own kitchen, the basic principles of layered lighting are the same.

Ambient Lighting (first layer)

This could also be referred to as the background lighting level, and gives out the most light across the widest space. As the foundation for your lighting setup, ambient light should not be too bright. It should provide an all round radiance that is sufficient for everyday life but perhaps not suitable for reading a book in. Correct use of ambient light can give a romantic, even mysterious look, and a sense of space to your interior architecture.

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Ambient lighting

Light fittings to use: Ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, torchieres

Accent Lighting (second layer)

The accent layer is particularly important if you want to illuminate certain elements of your interior architecture, centrepieces, artworks and even sculpture to create aesthetic appeal. It is used to highlight specific objects and areas, and so should be much brighter than your ambient light. The effect can be particularly powerful in large spaces such as hotel lobbies, as it draws the eye to certain features of the room. Sometimes the accent lighting itself can become a key visual element in its own right.

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accent lighting

Light fittings to use: Wall sconces, track lighting, uplights, recessed lights

Task Lighting (third layer)

The final layer needed to complete the effect and add extra functionality is the task lighting layer. As the name suggests, this is the light by which the main activities in the room are conducted by, whether they be reading, cooking, signing a guest register or anything else. This layer is thus the brightest and perhaps the most important to get right. When picking out and planning task lighting it’s important to consider what activities will be carried out the most in the specific space, and what type of lights will best facilitate these activities.

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task lighting

Light fittings to use: Table and desk lamps, pendant lights, vanity lights,

Those are the main types of lighting involved in creating the layered lighting effect, but you may also wish to add extra lights which are purely for decorative effect. For these, function is not as important as pure aesthetics, so you have free rein to pick what best suits your space.

Steph is a design addict who likes to share ideas and trends with anybody else who is interested in.